Choosing your Bull Source

CHOOSING your bull source (BS) is a critical decision for commercial cattle producers.

How do you source superior genetics that will improve herd profitability? This raises the question of how commercial producers can easily and affordably source industry leading genetics.

The good news is that this is not difficult, and that these genetics don’t necessarily cost more.

Here are five steps on how to identify leading seedstock sources.

  1. Go the AngusNZ website and select Genetics Search from the top of any page.
  2. Identify which BreedPlan index is the most appropriate for your production system. BreedPlan Indices are a powerful screening and ranking tool. Each index effectively quantifies the genetic merit of animals into a single number that reflects their impact on the bottom line of producers in that production system. There is a huge amount of science, economics and animal data underpinning this single number.

From the current percentile table, identify what the current 25th percentile (or whatever hurdle you want to set) figure is for the index you are considering.

  1. Through the BreedPlan website, conduct an ‘animal enquiry’, select the birth year of current sale bull drop and enter your relevant percentile figure as the minimum for the appropriate index, and search. You can also apply further filters for desired traits here if you like.
  2. This will produce a list of animals within the breed that meet the criteria you applied. To make it easier to read you can select ‘hide EBV ACC’ (accuracies) and ‘show all entries’. This will display all animals on one screen, this is the basis of your bull source short list. Those studs who have a high number of animals in this list are those that are leading the breed (for that index).
  3. Do a qualitative assessment of the people (e.g., would you buy a used car from them?) and their cattle to further refine your shortlist.

This youtube video demonstrates the above process.

A final point to make is that genetically superior bulls don’t necessarily cost more to buy. Many bull buyers seem to overlook objective data and get overexcited by overfed bulls with little or no data on their genetic merit, or even data that shows they are genetically inferior. These overfed bulls often need to lose a lot of condition when they get home before they can be put to work, which means a significant percentage of what was purchased ends up, quite literally, as bullshit.

This means astute commercial producers who do their homework don’t necessarily have to pay more to buy better bulls. Ultimately, it is up to each commercial producer to decide what approach they take in selecting their genetics, this approach will determine whether you identify a good bull source, or buy bullshit.

Adapted from Beef Central, by Ian McLean, 09/08/22